Run. Think. Shoot. Live.
, by the Washington-based developer team Valve
, follows a day in the life of physicist Gordon Freeman, a bearded, bespectacled Heroic Mime
who works in the Anomalous Materials laboratory at the vast Black Mesa Research Facility, a top-secret complex
in the middle of the New Mexico desert. While performing a test on a strange crystalline substance
, Gordon accidentally initiates a 'resonance cascade
' — an event which causes bizarre, violent creatures to be spontaneously transported from another dimension
. Now Gordon must work his way across the base in pursuit of a way to close the dimensional rift, fighting off not only the acid-spewing, electricity-shooting, zombifying aliens but also the Hazardous Environment Combat Unit (HECU), a special unit under the US military
, who have swarmed into the complex and are destroying the creatures and silencing the facility's personnel with equal vigor.
Notable for its total immersion of the player. The game is entirely played in first person and in real time, with very little sound not produced by actions in the game world, and no sounds at all made by the central character; also, there are no cutscenes (except at the very end, and even then you're still in control of the protagonist) — the player has control of the character at all times, and the story unfolds entirely in-game.
The designers actually had great difficulty with the level design at first, and got stuck in a rut. In order to take stock, they created a single level containing every gimmick, enemy, and bit of level furniture that they had come up with for the game so far. Said level was fantastic, and they realized that this density of set pieces
was the "certain something" the game lacked.Gearbox Software
made three official Expansion Packs
for the original game, which act as POV Sequels
for the main plot. They are as follows:
- Opposing Force begins shortly after the Resonance Cascade, and has the player controlling Corporal Adrian Shepard, one of numerous US Marines sent as the initial clean-up team. Involved in a chopper crash and separated from his squadron, Shephard awakens as the Marines begin their evacuation. Notably fills in what happened in Black Mesa after Freeman takes the battle to Xen. Additionally, Shephard is the only protagonist whose fate still remains completely unknown.
- Blue Shift runs concurrently with about the first third of the main plot, with the player controlling security guard Barney Calhoun. Working to evacuate the facility following the accident, Barney's story examines the outbreak from a survivors perspective; instead of combating the problem like Freeman, it's about getting out alive. The only expansion (presumed) to be canon, as Barney later reappears as a significant supporting character in Half-Life 2 and its following episodes.
- Decay follows two other Black Mesa scientists, Drs. Gina Cross and Colette Green, and is the only official co-operative entry to date. Following the doctors as they act as key scientists, their story shows the work of the Lambda scientists that Freeman co-operates with, explaining how they acted to undo the Resonance Cascade and Xen invasion. Developed and released exclusively for the PS2 version of Half-Life, it can also be played on the PC thanks to the efforts of the mod community.
Gearbox took some liberties towards the storylines, which still causes fan disputes
to their canonicity; as Word of God
by the series' main writer, Marc Laidlaw, has deemed them semi-canon
until further notice, some label them as Fanon Dis Continuity
, while others ferociously defend their being canon — due in no small part to Adrian Shephard's status as an Ensemble Darkhorse
The game engine was also famous for being highly customizable, leading to a long series of mods. Some of them were single-player, such as Gunman Chronicles
and They Hunger
while famous multiplayer mods include Deathmatch Classic
, Day of Defeat
, Natural Selection
, The Hidden
, and Afraid Of Monsters
Especially notable of all mods are Team Fortress
, both of which have famously ascended to independent games in their own right (and adopted by Valve themselves); because of this, Half-Life and its mods are collectively one of the most influential games of all time.
In September 2012, Black Mesa
, a mod that recreates the entire game in the Source engine, was released, after over eight years of waiting
In early 2013, With Valve's push to get Steam on Linux, they ported Half-Life 1 to Linux
, as well as Mac OS
Half-Life contains examples of: